Tag Archives: Robert Gagnon

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Fortitude

‘He who loves his life will lose it.’ (JN 12:25)

‘Because we are vulnerable we can be brave,’ says Joseph Pieper. CAN be brave. The truth is—most of us are cowards who seek first to preserve our lives from further wounding. Persons who demonstrate fortitude give up their lives to follow Jesus; they entrust to Him the diminishment they experience from others and somehow thrive on His nourishment, especially in suffering. When the battle gets harder, brave Christians get better. Through Jesus. For Jesus. Let me give you three examples of fortitude in action.

Sara married young to a fellow Asian, a Christian, who deserted her for another woman. She could not agree to dissolve the marriage as she made vows not just to a man but to the Man. For fifty years, she has stayed faithful to God and to the man she still considers her husband. Robert Gagnon is an Ivy League scholar who wrote the best book ever on ‘The Bible and Homosexual Practice’ (Abingdon Press). Over the course of his academic career, he has been reviled by peers while his work remains the gold standard. Sue entered into lesbianism after an abusive childhood in England. She sought spiritual answers and became a Buddhist nun. In Thailand she met Jesus, the Man of her dreams who equipped her to become a healing missionary. Surrounded by the heavenly host, a compromised church, and a gang of sinners who are becoming saints, she delights in partnering with Jesus to awaken hearts from the drowsy idolatry/immorality of Thailand.

Three factors mark each of their lives. First, they suffer because of what is right, not because of foolish daring. Sara believes she made a vow until death. She’s not dead yet and cannot in good conscience yield to the men who have wanted her. Robert stands on a profound understanding of God’s will for the sexual redemption of persons. Period. He cannot change that truth even if popular opinion does. Sue must be faithful to God’s call, however difficult that call is. The failure of others does not negate God faithfulness and call on her life.

Their diminishment in battle has not resulted in death—martyrdom—which is the highest honor accorded to persons possessed by fortitude. These three major on endurance, a second facet of fortitude; they sustain ‘little deaths’ as they endure shame for the joy set before them. No grim-faced sufferers these—each exercise what Pieper describes as ‘a vigorous grasping and clinging to the good’, namely holding fast to the little cross Jesus has asked of them as He steadies them with His Cross. Endurance for them is neither passive nor mournful but active, drawing water from an unseen but very real Source. And joyful! I have seen each of these three in serious hardship but never once succumb to self-pity, a third mark of fortitude. They refuse to be broken by grief; their losses and tears draw them closer to Jesus.

For us all, fortitude frees us to face our vulnerability in faith; we entrust ourselves to the One who does not promise freedom from injury and sorrow but freedom for Himself. He makes us alive in the fight for what is authentically good and true and beautiful. The battle prepares us for heaven.

Sara has a Bridegroom who awaits her; she is making herself ready for Him. Robert’s reward is thousands who through his work ‘run in the path of God’s commands’ (PS 119:32) and who teach others so. Sue is Jesus’ presence for a harassed people who under her care come clean from sin and demons. Fortitude frees her to prepare a tribe for heaven, for Jesus. Those who lose their lives find them, many times over.

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Fruitful and Faithful in London

Like Jacob, Janet wrestled with God and won. She described to me the battle she faced years earlier between the pull of the ‘gay self’ and her Christian commitment; at a Living Waters conference in London, 1994, she chose Jesus and never looked back. Now preaching in her central London church, I beheld her and several others whom God had plucked from the fire and granted a stake in His passion.

Humbled and grateful, ‘ex-gay’ Jim described the five children born since I last saw him. ‘God was faithful to me…He has helped me be faithful to my family.’

Jesus said simply that He came to give abundant Life to all who trust wholly in Him. Whether single like Janet or ‘father’ Jim, He makes us fruitful. Contrast that to the demonic claims of Obama and now the powers-that-be in Britain who claim that anyone who seeks to replace the ‘gay self’ with an authentically Christian one will die, consigned to a ‘death watch’ of suicidal tendencies and a fractured, fruitless existence.

Quoting Obama, and leafleting outside the church where I was preaching, two ‘gay Christian’ men who had become lovers warned all congregants that any kind of change promised by me or any Christian was ‘unethical’, would result in ‘tragedy,’ ‘psychological damage,’ and even ‘the destruction of churches’ due to pastors who seek in vain to leave behind their homosexuality.

Wow. I marvel at the enemy’s work in our nation and abroad who has taken the clear biblical call to pick up one’s cross and follow Jesus as the way of death, not the narrow road that leads to Life. In England, as in the USA, ‘gay Christians’, as well as an assortment of counseling associations, are claiming ‘once gay always gay’ and persecuting churches that think otherwise.

Thank God for Core Issues Trust, an organization which stands for freedom of choice through the Cross of Jesus Christ and sound clinical care for persons who seek transformation of same-sex attraction in the UK and elsewhere in Europe. We gathered in the shadow of Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, Christians of all stripes and vocations to explore the theological, clinical and spiritual ways forward for brave souls who today risk the worst kind of judgments for daring to repent of homosexuality.

During the conference, my friend Robert Gagnon and I had the privilege of proclaiming Jesus’ freedom for persons who seek His way amid same-sex attraction. Having caught wind of our ‘scandalous’ claims, the BBC and other news outlets gave us prime time to announce His good news from coast of coast. Jesus turned around His enemy’s efforts to undermine Hope by amplifying His hope throughout the UK.

Together with all the saints we rejoiced and re-clarified our commitment to how Jesus has been to keep us faithful to Himself and to a younger generation who will perish without our witness of grace and truth. We exercised our rightful authority to silence the enemy of our souls. He changed our mourning into dancing, our fretful silence into shouts of joy: Life prevails over death and makes us truly fruitful.

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Mercy, not Sacrifice

Day 12 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

‘I am more generous towards sinners than to the just. It was for their sake that I came down from heaven; it was for their sake that My blood was spilled. Let them not fear to approach Me; they are most in need of My Mercy.’ (1275)

Jesus sought out those with hearts hungry for the reign of His Kingdom. He describes that Kingdom in Luke 4:18 as good news for the poor, the imprisoned, the blind, and the oppressed. Missing from that Kingdom ‘call’ were dutiful members of the religious establishment.

Jesus describes the ‘just’ throughout the Gospels as those fixed on religious sacrifices—tithing scrupulously, praying punctually, splitting moral hairs continuously. What most seemed to lack was a need to be saved. Maybe their spiritual disciplines satisfied their hunger for God. Maybe their place of honor in the culture eased their shame so that a Savior seemed irrelevant.

Jesus gravitated toward the sin-sick, those without shelter for their shame. Some were oppressed by their own greed and lusts, like the sexually immoral; some, like Matthew the tax-collector, oppressed others with their greed. Jesus’ Mercy was magnetic for both groups. He realized that these were sheep without a Shepherd (Matt. 9:36), those most subject to harassment (literally, ‘without skin’) in a cruel and critical land.

He sought them out, and they sought Him out, because Jesus mirrored to them both the truth of sin’s oppression as well as its Merciful cure. Jesus hung out with the sinners who knew they were sinners. He did not wink at human bondage, nor is there any evidence that He tolerated those who did. Rather, He broke the yoke of such bondage through the rule of Love.

That is a vital point. Some progressive thinkers employ Jesus’ love for the underdog as proof that Jesus was pro-prostitute and pro-gay, as if Mercy rendered sexual sin a moot point in the Gospels. That is nonsensical. Jesus came for those sick of their sin; implicit here is a recognition of one’s sin and its destructiveness, two confessions you would never hear from a sex activist.

Theologian Dr. Robert Gagnon says it best : ‘Jesus balanced the Father’s ethical demands with His self-sacrificing outreach to transform sinners…He regarded sexual activity in thought and deed outside of lifelong marriage to the opposite sex as capable of jeopardizing one’s entrance into the Kingdom of God. What was distinctive about Jesus was His incredibly generous Spirit toward those who had lived in gross disobedience to God for years. He expended enormous effort and exhibited great compassion in His search for the lost.’ (The Bible and Homosexual Practice)

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice’. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matt. 9:12)

‘Jesus, grant us Your heart for the lost. May the harassed and helpless find shelter with us. May we refuse the post-modern heresy of equating Jesus’ love for sinners with His tolerance of sexual sin. Grant us the power of Your Mercy, its energy and availability. May we be a window in which broken ones discover unfailing love. ’

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Marriage is God’s Justice for Those with Unwanted Same-Sex Attraction

Many exist in the church and outside of it who experience unwanted same-sex attractions. These are men and women like me. For reasons we understand and do not, we have historically felt inclined toward our own gender. By the grace of God and out of reverence for Him, we have sought to overcome those inclinations. We now take our places as part of God’s evident design for His human creation: humanity as male and female.

For us, the reality of same-sex attraction is neither a right nor an identity or a lifestyle. It is disorder. It is a distortion of an otherwise normal need for same-sex love and attention. We steward our need for that love in proper non-sexual ways while seeking to love the opposite gender well as fellow image-bearers.

Desires do not define us; God’s evident design in creation does. And what God wills, He enables. We cast ourselves upon His grace constantly in our effort to love well. According to His definition, not ours.

We recognize instantly the wisdom of men like Robert Gagnon who define homosexuality in terms of its inherent narcissism—fixating upon our own gender along the good hard road to sexual wholeness.

He writes: “By definition, homosexual desire is sexual narcissism. There is a recognition that one desires in another what one already is and has as a sexual being…The modern word ‘homosexual’–from the Greek ‘homois’ or ‘same’–underscores this self-evident desire for the essential sexual self shared in common with one’s partner…Such a desire is really a form of self-delusion. We are gender beings by virtue of our gender, not due to possessing some social construct of gender. We need not seek completion in ‘sameness’. We must come to terms with our own essential gender.”

For us, the witness of whole marriages (and the state’s upholding of what true marriage is!) is a blessing. It encourages our journey onward to gender self-acceptance and recognizing the other gender as a needed counterpart.

I recall early on in my journey sitting in church and watching a young couple tending to their child. They cared for each other and the baby beautifully. It is as if I awoke to the beauty of God’s design and began to long for that—not merely as an ideal but as a personal goal. At that time, I also began to see the strength of my parents’ marriage; it too became a source of inspiration to me.

Whole marriages—defined and rewarded by the state—are God’s justice to those with unwanted same-sex desires. Honor marriage for the good of all. Vote YES on Prop. 8.

“Father, open our eyes to the powerful witness of marriage for those dealing with unwanted same-sex attraction. Thank you for the grace to resume the journey.”

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Marriage is Male and Female

Gender matters in marriage. As we saw yesterday, the distinctly masculine and feminine dimensions of marriage reveal something about God to us, His very image revealed on the earth.

Let us explore this further. Marriage involves the joining together of two distinctive parts: male and female. Wholeness requires ‘otherness. The oneness of body, soul, and spirit that marriage embodies requires essential maleness and femaleness. There is no one-flesh union apart from the two genders becoming one.

Marriage is not just about friendship and intimacy. It is about the sexual merger of maleness and femaleness. Or according to the Judeo-Christian tradition, a sexual re-merger. My favorite author on the topic of homosexuality, Robert Gagnon, writes:

“The creation story in Gen. 2:18-24 illustrates this point beautifully. An original binary, or sexually undifferentiated, adam is split down the side to form two sexually differentiated persons. Marriage is pictured as the reunion of the two other halves, man and woman.

This is not an optional or minor feature of the story. Since the only difference created by the splitting is the creation of two distinct sexes, the only way to reconstitute the whole, on the level of sexual intimacy, is to bring together the split parts. A same-sex erotic relationship can never constitute a marriage because it will always lack the requisite sexual counterparts, or complements.”

Marriage is exclusively the domain of two becoming one. At core and in essence, that involves the joining of male and female. The comprehensive sharing of life in marriage is founded on bodily union. And that union, as we have seen, is made possible only by the sexual complementarity of man and woman.

I will explore that theme of wholeness in two halves further. Suffice to say, ‘gay’ marriage is a contradiction in terms. To seek to become one with the same gender undercuts the Creator’s unwavering intention for marriage. That involves ‘otherness’–male and female.

A wise-man said: “The corruption of society begins by a failure to call things by their proper names.” ‘Gay marriage’ is a fundamental contradiction in terms. To validate a misnomer is to contribute to the corruption of California.
Vote YES on 8. Honor Marriage for the Good of All.

“Help us see things as they are, O God. Raise up the foundational truth of how You see marriage. Open our eyes to the good of man for woman, woman for man.”

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